Three Hebrew Names Of God And Their Meanings

"Hello, what's your name?" Wouldn't it be silly to answer that question with "nice," or "special," or "generous," or some other description of your attributes? It's also silly to call descriptions of God his "names."

You have a specific name that distinguishes you from the many people around you. So does God. He has only one name, but there are three names used to address him in the Hebrew Bible. Those three names are Yahweh, Elohim, and Adonai. Let's briefly explore these three Hebrew names of God and their meanings.

Yahweh, God's Personal Name

The only name that refers solely to God is Yahweh (pronounced as it looks, 'YAH-way). It is his personal name, just like you have a personal name that people use to address you. His name Yahweh is used all throughout the Bible, from as early as Genesis 2:4.

Yahweh is a beautiful name, and I encourage you to study it in great detail. But to summarize, it roughly means "I AM" or "I exist," and it refers to God's omniscient and eternal existence. It is through Yahweh (the I AM) that we, too exist. Remember that Yahweh breathed into mankind the "breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). So by understanding Yahweh's name and his character, we also gain a better understanding of ourselves and our Christ-like character.

You may be wondering why you haven't seen the name "Yahweh" in your Bible. Well, a lot of modern translations replace the actual Hebrew word "Yahweh" for the English word "LORD" (some translations use caps, while others don't). But I believe there is power in Yahweh's name, and we can benefit by using it. That's one reason I use it a lot in my writings on this website.

Elohim (God)

Many people refer to Him by using the name "God," which is the English translation of the Hebrew word "Elohim" (pronounced el-oh-'HEEM). Though it is not as powerful and unique as Yahweh, it is still a name of power. Actually, the name itself means "powerful one," and carries the meaning "one who is strong and has power and authority."

It's interesting to note that the words "Elohim" and "Eloha" (singular form of "Elohim") are used in the Hebrew Bible to refer not only to Yahweh, but also to pagan gods as well as humans in authority.

Adonai (Lord)

To conclude our study of the three Hebrew names of God and their meanings, let's look into the Hebrew word Adonai. It is used regularly throughout the Bible, and is translated into English as the word "lord."

This is not to be confused with the word "LORD" you may see in caps in your Bible, depending on which translation you use (as already mentioned). Unlike "LORD" which represents "Yahweh," the Hebrew word "Adonai" means "lord" or "master," and represents someone who has authority and rulership over others. This name applies to Yahweh, since of course he has authority and rulership over us, his children.

Fun fact: Did you know that Sarah called her husband Abram "Adon" (singular form of the Hebrew word "Adonai"). See Genesis 18:12 and 1 Peter 3:6.


Though there are many words that can be used to accurately describe Yahweh's character, he has only one name: Yahweh. In this article, we have looked at the meaning of Yahweh's personal name, as well as the two other names by which he is referred in the Bible: Elohim (God) and Adonai (Lord). Through a better understanding of the Hebrew names of God and their meanings, we can more easily grasp the nature and character of Yahweh himself.
About The AuthorJonathan Hostetler lives in southern Pennsylvania. He grew up in a strong Christian family, dedicated his life completely to Jesus at the age of 9, experienced a spiritual breakthrough at the age of 15, and is now in his mid twenties, joyfully serving Yahweh and sharing Yahweh's message of salvation and hope both on the internet and in person.
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